Query for On The Fringe

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superduperkool
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Query for On The Fringe

Post by superduperkool » June 7th, 2010, 5:56 pm

This is my first time posting. I have submitted my query to a few agents with no luck. I was hoping people could look at the first two paragraphs and offer suggestions.
Thanks

Dear Literary Agent,

Lucy is the typical post graduate dreaming of the perfect job as a historian. After applying at museums, community colleges, fast food restaurants, and as body guard for Britney Spears, she is still unemployed months later. With a dwindling bank account, her options are homelessness, or a rusty futon in her father’s basement in Iowa. Trapped behind three concrete walls and a door made of her old Backstreet Boy’s sheets, Sally can’t see life beyond her basement walls. The day after her boyfriend dumps her, she gets hired at Cowboy Cal's Pizza Corral. She is hired immediately at the children's restaurant because the prepubescent manager thinks she is a sexy cougar at the age of 25. With minimum wage, a sexually harassing boss, daisy dukes, and push up bras, can Sally put her life back together one bad tip and pizza slice at a time?

I am seeking representation for my 75,000 word literary fiction novel On the Fringe. There is a market for this book because many people don’t find that perfect job after college. As an unemployed post graduate myself, I wrote this book for all of the people whose post graduation dreams didn’t come true. With a little humor, self bar tending, bad reality television marathons, and an adjustment of her post graduation visions, Sally creates a life for herself in unexpected places.

L.M. Pruitt
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by L.M. Pruitt » June 7th, 2010, 6:14 pm

My thoughts in red.

Dear Literary Agent,

Lucy is the typical post graduate dreaming of the perfect job as a historian. After applying at museums, community colleges, fast food restaurants, and as body guard for Britney Spears,Can you actually do that? And why would someone with a degree in history apply, even if you could? she is still unemployed months later. With a dwindling bank account, her options are homelessness, or a rusty futon in her father’s basement in Iowa. Trapped behind three concrete walls and a door made of her old Backstreet Boy’s sheets, SallyWait, I thought her name was Lucy? can’t see life beyond her basement walls. The day after her boyfriend dumps her, she gets hired at Cowboy Cal's Pizza Corral. She is hired immediately at the children's restaurant because the prepubescent manager thinks she is a sexy cougar at the age of 25.Something about this just seems wrong. I can't put a finger on it, but it doesn't read well With minimum wage, a sexually harassing boss, daisy dukes, and push up bras, can Sally put her life back together one bad tip and pizza slice at a time?

I am seeking representation for my 75,000 word literary fictionThis reads more as women's fiction or women's fiction "lite" to me. novel On the Fringe. There is a market for this book because many people don’t find that perfect job after college.I would cut this sentence, and the one following. It's a vague description of your reader, because a lot of people don't get what they want right after graduating, hence the term "entry level position". As an unemployed post graduate myself, I wrote this book for all of the people whose post graduation dreams didn’t come true. With a little humor, self bar tending, bad reality television marathons, and an adjustment of her post graduation visions, Sally creates a life for herself in unexpected places.


Reading between the lines, it seems like it has the potential to be a funny read. I don't think your query is selling that. Combine that with the obvious name mix-up, and I don't know if an agent would be willing to take a chance on this work. Revise, expand a little, and try again. Best of luck.

lachrymal
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by lachrymal » June 7th, 2010, 7:11 pm

ear Literary Agent,

Lucy is the typical post graduate [OK. First, postgraduate is one word. Second, it's an adjective. I think it would make more sense here if you said "college graduate"]dreaming of the perfect job as a historian. After applying at museums, community colleges, fast food restaurants, and as body guard [bodyguard is one word, not two] for Britney Spears [I agree with the previous poster that this sounds implausible.], she is still unemployed months later. With a dwindling bank account, her options are homelessness, [delete the comma here as what comes after is a dependent phrase] or a rusty futon in her father’s basement in Iowa. Trapped behind three concrete walls and a door made of her old Backstreet Boy’s [because you have an apostrophe here, what you're saying is that the sheets belong to a Backstreet Boy. I believe what you mean to say is "her old Backstreet Boys sheets", since they're her sheets, right?] sheets, Sally [check out your name switch--if you sent queries out like this, probably the agent stopped reading here. Be very careful about stuff like that. At first, I thought this was a book about two girls going through very similar struggles.] can’t see life beyond her basement walls [this sentence is awkward because you start by saying she's trapped behind walls and end by saying she can't see beyond the walls. It's repetitious, and you can't afford to do that in a query] The day after her boyfriend dumps her, she gets hired at Cowboy Cal's Pizza Corral. She is hired immediately at the children's restaurant because the prepubescent manager [the manager sounds pubescent rather than prepubescent. Also--can a prepubescent person, who would, almost by definition, be younger than 15 or 16, be a manager at a restaurant?] thinks she is a sexy cougar at the age of 25. With minimum wage, a sexually harassing boss, daisy dukes, and push up [I think "push-up" is hyphenated, as it is one term describing the bras] bras, can Sally put her life back together one bad tip and pizza slice at a time? This final sentence is not very compelling and is confusing. Are you saying she's using the minumum wage and unpleasant boss to put her life back together?

I am seeking representation for my 75,000 word literary fiction novel On the Fringe [yeah. This sounds more like chick-lit]. There is a market for this book because many people don’t find that perfect job after college. As an unemployed post graduate myself, I wrote this book for all of the people whose post graduation dreams didn’t come true. With a little humor, self bar tending, bad reality television marathons, and an adjustment of her post graduation visions, Sally creates a life for herself in unexpected places. I think you can delete the final three sentences of this para. Frankly, when you say you're an unemployed college graduate, it makes it sound like you wrote this book because you didn't have anything else to do, and that is not enticing to an agent, who is likely looking for a professional writer to represent. I suggest you rework this query to give us a sense of Lucy/Sally, what her primary conflict/choice is, and what she does about it. Right now, your first paragraph is like a recitation of events. And I also agree with the previous poster that it seems like it should be a funny book, but that's not coming through here. Revise and bring out the humor and what makes the MC special or interesting.

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J. T. SHEA
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 7th, 2010, 11:37 pm

Welcome, Superduperkool! I didn't know fast food restaurants employed historians! Even one run by children. Cowboy Cal's Pizza Corral? A prepubescent manager? Daisy Dukes?

Is there a Dodge with a Confederate flag on its roof? Do unemployed postgrads (sorry Lachrymal!) really want to read about other unemployed postgrads? Are you misunderestimating your novel's humor?

superduperkool
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by superduperkool » June 8th, 2010, 12:01 am

I haven't posted on a website like this before. I just wanted to thank your for your comments. I appreciate the honesty and I will use the comments to improve my query. I am not sure if unemployed post graduates want to read about other unemployed post graduates? One of my friends who I graduated with words at party city and the other works at Culvers. They were the inspiration, but we shall see if literary agents respond.

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HillaryJ
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by HillaryJ » June 8th, 2010, 12:44 am

I see the potential here for a lot of fatalistic humor (sexy cougar at the age of 25, Britney Spears' bodyguard). What I don't see is a clear and intriguing plot. Not saying you don't have one. Just saying I don't see it in this brief blurb. Also, what is your main character's name? Lucy or Sally?

I suggest starting with your pitch: Sally (or Lucy) is trying to build a life, one bad tip and pizza slice at a time. Don't use the rhetorical question, because the agent is programmed to answer: "Who cares." And then put her awkward and endearing series of failures and successes together, as well as a sense of the external conflict. Is she just floating from one bad interview to the next bad futon, or is she putting effort into something/fighting against or for something?

I do not care for the last paragraph simply because I get the feeling that agents are seeing a lot of that, and I don't think they want to see your bio mimic the story that closely. Don't tell the agent who is going to buy your book (especially when it's a small subsection). Give them comparisons - published authors who have successfully written in this genre, even if it's just short stories or articles.

Good luck.
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » June 8th, 2010, 8:09 am

Hi superduperkool,

It seems to me that you're giving us the backstory and not the story itself. Your story blurb seems to provide more set-up than actual story. That is, it's telling us how she got to this moment, but not what happens to her in the moment and what she does about it. What's the plot? I think you need to pinpoint your hook and conflict, and start the query there. What initiates conflict and change? These are the dramatic elements that the query needs to focus on. Think of it as a little story. Hook, character, conflict, rising action (complications), climax, denouement (resolution). Structure the query on these and you should be able to provide the agents with what they need: an understanding of the narrative and character arcs.

Best of luck.
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

capaloha
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Re: Query for On The Fringe

Post by capaloha » June 9th, 2010, 3:28 pm

Aloha,

There is a market for college graduates with dreams that exceed their reach. Jason Ryan Dorsey has made a career out of writing self-help books for this crowd. I agree with the chick-lit recommendation, or the "fun summer beach read" if that is a category.

Back to your query - there are some great images in here. The basic problem is you have too many words between the images that don't compel the reader to move along with you. Lucy's situation: no job, no money. Check. Lucy's options: Homeless or futon. Check. Wait, doesn't she have another option? The one she's going to take. The one that's going to make me laugh my a** off at the beach? Can you tell me about that option in 100 words or fifteen seconds?

I'm all about the wild and crazy idea that makes someone say, "I must read more. Now." Put that idea in your head and drink a Red Bull and rewrite your query letter. I look forward to reading it because I want to know what happens to Lucy. May you slay many words in your career as a novelist, and may your books line the walls of every bookstore you have ever entered! Best of luck.

Capaloha---

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